The Week 5 matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers will see two teams that are coming off disappointing Week 4 losses, looking to recover and get back on the right track this Sunday.
Seattle dropped an unexpected game on the St. Louis Rams, 19-13. The Seahawks weren't able to get much going through the air with Russell Wilson, but Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks defense were solid as usual, falling victim to the Rams' sensational rookie kicker.
Carolina was the underdog in their Week 4 showdown with the Atlanta Falcons and nearly came out victorious after losing, 30-28. The Panthers had a lead in the final minutes of the game, but Matt Ryan's pass to Roddy White connected to get the Falcons down the field, leading to their ultimate winning touchdown.
So let's take a look at everything you need to know for this upcoming game.
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
When: Sunday, October 7 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Watch: FOX (Check local listings)
Spread: Seattle (+3), according to Bovada.lv
If nothing else, Seattle's defense has been stellar, ranking No. 10 against the pass and No. 2 against the run this season. It's going to be a tough day for Cam Newton and the Panthers' offense.
On the flip side, Seattle hasn't been that great offensively, but they still have a great rushing attack. Normally, I wouldn't have too much faith in what the Seahawks can do on the offensive end, but against Carolina's defense which is ranked No. 22 and No. 26 against the pass and run, respectively, the Seahawks should be able to move the ball.
Combined with another solid defensive effort that will shut down the Panthers, and Carolina's lack of defense, the Seahawks should be able to win this game by more than a field goal.
Over/Under: 43.5, according to Bovada.lv
Taking the over on this one is a huge mistake.
Seattle's elite defense will not allow Newton and the Panthers' offense to do much in this game. Not to mention, the Seahawks have a rookie quarterback and a lackluster offense as a whole despite having a great running back.
There won't be much scoring in this game as a result of those two factors, making it a safe bet to take the under in this game.
Panthers Injuries (via ESPN)
CB Chris Gamble (Doubtful, Shoulder)
LB Jon Beason (Doubtful, Knee)
Seahawks Injuries (via ESPN)
RB Marshawn Lynch (Probable, Rest)
Don't be fooled by Lynch's presence on the injury report this week. The Seahawks' back is listed there after needing some rest during the week, but he will play. Lynch has compiled at least 85 yards or more in each game this season with two scores. He'll also be getting the ball against the Panthers' horrid rush defense.
Seattle's defense is also another sure bet in this game. The Seahawks defense is ranked No. 10 and No. 2 against the pass and run, respectively. Carolina's quarterback has thrown five interceptions this year as well, so chances are the Seahawks can force him into some mistakes this week.
Newton is still a solid bet this week despite going up against the Seahawks' vaunted defense. Newton will still have his opportunities through the air, but if he is flushed out of the pocket often, Newton will accumulate yardage on the ground as well.
Steve Smith will be Newton's primary target this week and thanks to Seattle's stingy rush defense, Carolina will look to throw this week with Smith being the biggest recipient. Smith is due to get into the end zone for the first time this season, and Carolina's top receiver has already broken the 100-yard mark twice.
Keys to Seahawks Win
The Seahawks' success offensively starts and ends with the rushing attack. Lynch is one of the best backs in the NFL at the moment, so Seattle must lean on him game in and game out, especially against the Panthers' sorry excuse for a rush defense.
Seattle's defense must also come to play this week as is the case every week. Look for the Seahawks to try and contain Cam Newton in the pocket, forcing him to make plays with his arm. If they can stop the Panthers on the ground and keep Newton in the pocket, the Seahawks should be able to capitalize against a one-dimensional offense.
Keys to Panthers Win
First and foremost, the Panthers must stop the Seahawks rushing attack. If Carolina can put a stop to Lynch, that will force Wilson to throw the ball far more than he would like, and that doesn't bode well for Seattle's rookie signal-caller who simply isn't ready to put this team on his back.
Newton and Smith must connect early and often in this game in order to open up the field for their rushing attack. On top of that, protection will be key for Newton's success and if the Panthers' offensive line can't handle the job, Newton must roll out to make things happen himself.
The Seahawks defense is just too much for the Panthers offense to overcome. Seattle will get a ton of pressure on Newton and will get its fair share of sacks. With no time to throw and no running game, Carolina will be helpless on the offensive end, making this a low-scoring affair.
Sure, Seattle won't put up a ton of points itself, but low-scoring games are exactly what a defensive-minded team like the Seahawks prefer.
Seahawks 20, Panthers 13